BioBricks, Biopunks and Bioentrepreneurs
Chapter 3: Science meets politics, activists and governance: evaluating key positions in synthetic biology debates
Chapter 3 evaluates key policy positions in the debate over regulation of synthetic biology. These are represented by leading scientists, J Craig Venter and Drew Endy, sociologists, Joy Y Zhang, Claire Marris and Nikolas Rose, and the civil society organisation, ETC Group. Venter has promoted the benefits of synthetic biology and encouraged government investment and lighter regulation. This approach has limitations in terms of public and government involvement and consideration of risks and ethical concerns. Endy has sought to develop the new field of engineering of biology and create a research community underpinned by positive communal norms. While these have positive influence, this self-regulatory strategy alone is insufficient as a regulatory approach to synthetic biology. The ETC Group emphasises the risks of synthetic biology and has argued that in the absence of adequate oversight, there should be a moratorium. This is not appropriate as a regulatory strategy for synthetic biology.
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